I am a daily Meditator and Mindfulness practitioner for over twelve years.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation or mindfulness is a form of meditation that originated over 2,500 years. It is about focusing fully on the present moment about what you are doing, thinking, and feeling.
Initially, the term 'mindfulness' is translated from the word 'Sati,' which means awareness and attention in the Pali language (the language of the early Buddhists).
It is a way of slowing down the pace, of living in calm, reflection, and contemplation.
This is also a contemporary form of meditation practiced in medical, sporting, and educational environments. It is also used for cognitive therapies to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and physical pain.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation?
The primary benefit of mindfulness meditation is stress reduction. Whether it is stress at work or performance anxieties, mindfulness allows you to find calm and serenity. This is the reason why so many people practice it.
Mindfulness teaches you to distance yourself from your negative thoughts, slow down, live in the moment, and refocus on important things.
The second benefit of mindfulness meditation is improved concentration, as demonstrated by a study from the University of British Columbia.
In 2014, a group of researchers studied how meditation changes the structure of our brains. This study compared the brains of people who practice meditation to those of non-practitioners.
They found that people who meditated regularly had more tissue mass in the areas of the brain that control focus, stress, and attention. In other words, they had succeeded in "beefing up" their concentration through the practice of meditation.
When you meditate, you are constantly bringing your attention back to something: your breath, thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Ultimately, by doing this exercise you strengthen your concentration.
Mindfulness meditation is also beneficial because it allows you to gain clarity. In other words, it enables you to place your problems into perspective by helping you see things more clearly when making decisions. Additionally, it will assist you to understand your emotions and mental patterns better. In short, it is an ideal exercise to gain clarity of the mind.
Quality of Life
Generally speaking, mindfulness improves the quality of your life.
Nowadays, we move on autopilot. We do the same things without wondering why we are doing them. We get up, get ready, take the kids to school, go to work, go shopping, cook, hang out on social networks, go to bed, and start the next day again.
But when do we take our time to settle down and breathe? When do we stop living aimlessly and begin to live in the present moment?
Practicing mindfulness is a way to slow down, be more present, and live more intentionally.
Now that you know the benefits of this meditation, how do you go about meditating with full consciousness?
Observe Your Thoughts
The first exercise in mindfulness is to observe your thoughts without letting them get carried away.
Throughout the day, you constantly let yourself be carried away by your thoughts. For example, one thought leads to another, which leads to another.
Sometimes these thoughts are happy and pleasant, and you feel good. But often, these thoughts are negative and distressing, creating a lot of stress and discomfort.
With mindfulness meditation, you distance yourself from all of these thoughts, whether good or bad. Instead of being the actor, you are the observer and you watch them go by without judging them.
An excellent analogy for understanding this exercise is watching cars pass by. Imagine sitting on a bench. A few meters from you, cars are driving down a road. These cars symbolize your thoughts and each time a new one passes, you observe it with indifference.
This exercise helps you remind yourself that all of those things that stress you out that seem almost real to you are just passing thoughts.
Mindfulness exercise: Every day, take a 10-minute break and observe your thoughts without judging them. Watch them form and then disappear. When you get carried away by one of them (which will inevitably happen), take over the role of observer. Over time, you will find that you will be able to distance yourself from even your most agonizing thoughts.
Observe Your Emotions
Your emotions are just like your thoughts: they come and go. Again, the point of mindfulness is to watch them pass by without judging them.
Naturally, watching or observing your emotions is a little more difficult than your thoughts. That is, emotions are often more ambiguous. For example, you will feel sad, edgy, and melancholy simultaneously, or even happy, excited, and balanced. Usually, it is a mix of several things which is not always easy to identify.
To better observe and understand them, you must therefore develop a rich vocabulary. The more words you have to describe what you are feeling, the more you will understand and clearly express your emotions.
Mindfulness exercise: Once a day, take 10 minutes to observe your emotions. Then, try to name them as precisely as possible.
Pay Attention to the Sensations of the Present Moment
When you do something, your mind generally tends to think of something else. For example, when you walk, you are also thinking about your work. When you shower, you think of a problem that you need to fix. Or when you eat, you are simultaneously watching your TV or smartphone.
In fact, your mind is constantly wandering and multitasking. Overall, the problem is that trying to think and do more than one thing at a time prevents you from fully living in the present moment.
Fortunately, there is a great mindfulness exercise you can do anytime and anywhere to be more present daily. This exercise is all about focusing on what you are doing while doing it.
For instance, when you walk, focus on how you feel with each step. When you take a shower, focus on the contact of the water on your skin and the sound of the water falling. When you eat, focus your attention on the sensation and texture of the food.
By focusing on how you feel, you'll live less in your head and more in the present moment
Mindfulness exercise: Regularly pay attention to what you are doing throughout the day. If you're sitting at your desk and working, for example, pay attention to your typing fingers on your keyboard and the sounds around you. Do it every time you think about it, and you will find that you will eventually live much more in the present.